Importance of toes in Yoga

Toe position is a critical component of any active movement of the human body. Ballet dancers, runners, and martial artists all stress toe positioning highly. Yoga is no different. Feet being spread or pointed determines the entire stance of the body. Most of us may have trouble just trying to spread our toes. This is caused by a lifetime of narrow shoes and bad stretching habits. The abductors that control our big and little toes get very little use on a general basis. Our feet are the main foundation of our body whether we are standing, walking or running.

Moving your toes around will affect most of the muscle groups in your legs, and will firm them up and aid in stability when required, or loosen certain muscles when required.

Crow Pose (With pointed toes)

Have you ever wondered why we point or flex our toes in certain yoga postures? Or you may have come across your yoga teacher correcting your toe posture?

Generally in yoga, we have two distinct, active choices in regards to our feet: to flex or to point. And the mixture of those two is known as “floint” (pointing the ball of the foot with toes flexed backward and spread)

When looking at a yoga teacher in person or through a screen, you might notice that their feet are firmly engaged, their toes splaying out in different directions. This happens because they are pointing and flexing their toes simultaneously. 

This sounds difficult, but it is quite straightforward to do. Simply start by pointing your toes. Keeping the muscles engaged, use your mind and muscle connection to control your toes. Lifting and separating them with energy will allow you to flex your foot while maintaining the muscle engagement from the first point.

Pointed Feet
  • Protects the hamstrings while straightening the legs in splits.
  • Stretches muscles & tendons along the front of legs (shins and ankles).
  • Engaging the legs provide greater stability.
  • These include postures like Crow ,Firefly or Peacock pose.
Flexed Feet
  • Engages the front of the legs while stretching the backside.
  • Too much effort can hurt the hamstrings.
  • Active flexion can also be found in the seated postures, where the hamstrings don’t have to bear the weight of the body, like staff and sitting twist asana.
Flointed feet
  • Engages front of the legs while stretching the backside.
  • Stretches the toes (those little guys need some love too)
  • Strengthens the foot muscles
  • Helps with balance, especially in standing poses (the spread toes create a wider base, and stronger grip)
  • Keeps the toes healthy, avoiding things like hammer toes (when one toe gets way too attached to another)

The benefits of having firm, and well activated toes will show immediately in your balance moves and will improve your posture when standing or moving.